With the NFL Combine behind us and the 2022 NFL Draft just a month away, the final stages of the scouting process are starting to take shape. I’ve been hard at work grinding the tape to bring you detailed breakdowns of some of the top prospects available to the Atlanta Falcons throughout the draft, and I’m excited to finally share them with you now that the athletic testing has been finalized.
First, if you’re unfamiliar with my scouting reports from previous years, you can read about my grading system here. Please keep in mind this system is still in development, and may be adjusted as more data points come in.
Next up is one of the most lethal speed rushers in the class: Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie. Ebiketie had a quiet Senior Bowl and only recently completed athletic testing at his Pro Day, but he’s a terrific fit as a 3-4 OLB in Atlanta’s defense.
EDGE | Arnold Ebiketie | Penn State | #17
Games watched: Wisconsin, Auburn, Iowa, Michigan, Senior Bowl
Penn State edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie took a big risk in his senior season by transferring from Temple. That jump in competition can often stifle players, as it takes time to adjust and it can be difficult to produce at the same level. For Ebiketie, it was clearly the right move, as he had his best season in 2021. It’s very impressive that Ebiketie earned a starting job and a multiple role on the defense in just one offseason, which demonstrates his advanced football IQ and adaptability.
Ebiketie is an explosive speed rusher with very good movement skills. He’s comfortable both standing up and rushing with his hand in the dirt. As a pass rusher, he can defeat opposing tackles with his first-step quickness and ability to turn the corner. He’s quick and slippery, often knifing through gaps and creating disruption in the backfield. Ebiketie is a fiery competitor who plays hard in pursuit and never gives up on his rush. There aren’t any glaring holes in his game, but Ebiketie does lack prototypical size–though it is offset somewhat by his above-average arm length.
He’s never going to be a gap-clogger in the run game and is best used as an outside contain player and penetrator, as his 18.0 TFL illustrate. His strength at the point of attack is good but not special, and he’s most often going to win with his quickness and movement skills. He’s also got room to grow in terms of his hand usage, where he has good instincts as a hand-fighter but not a large repertoire of moves yet. Ebiketie is a great fit as a 3-4 OLB and offers the flexibility to play some 4-3 DE, as well. I think he’s an early-career contributor as a designated pass rusher and a long-term EDGE2 who can provide consistent, 3-down production.
Explosive off the snap and lightning quick. Can beat OTs with his first step and win reps instantly. Good at timing the snap to maximize his effectiveness.
Flexibility/Lateral Mobility: 7
Excellent bend and lateral mobility. Easy mover who can change direction without issue. Capable of dropping into short zone coverage if needed.
Hand Technique: 4
Constant hand-fighter who has some pop, but the moves are still being developed. Good at getting skinny through gaps and clearing hands, but struggles to disengage from blocks and doesn’t have a lot of counters if his initial attempt is defeated.
Good length. Shorter stature doesn’t hurt him due to above-average arm length, but isn’t a huge asset either. Not a primary component of his game now, could be a bigger asset with additional pass rush moves.
Good power at the point of attack. Holds his own against OTs as a run defender and beats TE blocks consistently. Gets overwhelmed by double teams. Bull rush combined with his explosiveness can be effective.
Competitive Toughness: 8
Fiery competitor. Plays hard and fast on every down. Chased a runner 40 yards downfield to prevent a TD against Iowa. Will give strong effort in pursuit and never give up on a rush.
Football IQ: 6
Plays gap sound as a run defender. Rarely out of position, plays contain consistently. Trusted in multiple positions along the defensive line and in zone coverage despite just 1 year in the program. Early signs of developing a pass rush plan are there.
Very good production. Jumped up in competition going from Temple to Penn State and had his best season. Piled up 9.5 sacks, 18.0 TFL, and 34 solo tackles (62 total) along with 1 PD and 2 FF in 2021.
Run Defense: 5
Good run defender. Plays gap sound and consistently holds contain on the outside. Better as a penetrator and disruptor than gap-clogger. Very productive in the backfield but could be a better finisher as a tackler. Lack of size leads to some narrow missed tackles when he can’t disengage from blocks.
Played almost entirely at EDGE for Penn State, including alignments at 5T, 7T, and wide-9. Most often rushed from a 2-PT stance but frequently lined up in 3-PT as well. Comfortable dropping into short zone coverage and playing in space. Like him best as a 3-4 OLB but can play 4-3 DE too. Executed stunts and twists effectively, and had some plays as an interior blitzer.
Athleticism: 9.07u, 18/20
Elite athlete in terms of explosiveness, agility, and long speed. Easy mover with a well-rounded set of traits. Below-average size profile, but overcomes this with above-average length.